Mastering Chess: A Guide on How to Become a CM in the Game

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a Chess Master? From knowing the rules and strategies to honing your analytical thinking skills, there are certain requirements that must be met.

We explore the different levels of chess mastery, from Candidate Master to Grandmaster, and provide tips on how to improve your chess skills.

Discover how to achieve the prestigious Candidate Master title through rating requirements, tournament play, obtaining norms, and applying for the title.

If you’re ready to elevate your chess game, keep reading to learn more!

What Is a Chess Master?

A Chess Master (CM) in the World Chess Federation system is a player with an elo rating of 2200 or higher. This means that in a match against a low-rated amateur (below the median rating of 1000 for rated players in the system), they are expected to win almost 100% of the games. To achieve this, it is necessary to play and compete in tournaments where one can gain and maintain their rating until they finally cross the 2200 mark.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Chess Master?

The requirements to become a chess master generally are (1) considerable experience competing in (2) a number of major international tournaments and (3) a consistent minimum ELO rating either in (4) stock four-digit levels or at times three-digit levels.

There is no standard rule for requirements to become a chess master in India. In Argentine chess, for example, a First Category player has to hold at least an ELO rating of 1600. In Spain, as an example, all players of the same International ELO range between 2200 to 2300 with a three-Danish National Chess Master title.

Knowledge of Chess Rules

Basic knowledge of chess rules is necessary for any Cm competion. Chess rules are governed by the International Chess Board (FIDE), which publishes an official Laws of Chess document. The laws of chess have 11 sections addressing various topics, such as pieces, the start and end of the game, illegal moves, piece division, clock usage, recording moves, scoring, different types of games, arbiter decisions, and anything not covered in the laws. A basic understanding of these rules is important for ensuring that games are fair and necessary to maintain the norms and convention in Chess competition.

Laws 1-8 explain the chessboard, the pieces, the start of the game, how to make a move, and the end of a game. Laws 9-11 discuss irregularities, how to record a game using Algebraic Notation, and the role of the match arbiter. and many other websites explain the Laws of Chess in an easy-to-understand manner. Below is a summary of the basic chess rules from

Time Limits: These keep games under control and actually can enhance the environment. Cm tournaments regularly use various timed systems, and it is part of the game to know how to manage play as the clock ticks towards victory or defeat. The following are the sets of basic CM chess rules as provided by FIDE that apply to these requirements. These rules are designed to offer as fair a game as possible. It is important for CMs to enter these tournaments aware of the agreed terms and requirements.

Understanding of Chess Strategies

A Chess Master (CM) is able to utilize a array of chess strategies that have been proven across millions of games around the world over centuries. This knowledge is useful for a player to understand what the goals of a particular opening are, what plans midgame strategies are useful, and what types of advantages to pursue in an endgame. It is more customarily known correctly as mastering the key winning ideas of classical opening, middle game, and endgame strategy.

The opening, middle game, and endgame stages of chess have differing common goals and successful winning ideas that the player must know how to play to see a perfect way to checkmate in chess. Opening stage educates a player on control of central squares, mobilization of pieces, and king ‘safety’ (king safety refers to control over certain square territories near king – and not necessarily just the act of castling to move the king to a corner away from center files which can generate safety by itself)).

Middle game educates a player to use the pieces to control weak squares and to support pawns to promote them while affecting piece exchanges. In the endgame, the goal is converting one’s advantage into a material or tactical gain, while avoiding making any serious errors.

Analytical Thinking Skills

Another must-have skill for a CM in chess is analytical thinking. Analytical thinking is based on observation and evidence, factoring in various existing knowledge bases. A player must be able to understand and analyze positions quickly and formulate plans and ideas based on this analysis. This type of analysis always starts with looking at the most forcing moves. To improve analytical thinking skills, CMs should follow their own games and, where possible, matches from real games via moves and get used to analyzing them.

Dedication and Practice

Having excellent board vision and the ability to understand the theory behind each opening gives you a big advantage. Achieving this comes down to hard work and practice, but you will be rewarded for the effort as strong pattern recognition is one of the hallmarks of the absolute best chess players. Since CMs can continue their training to become a full-fledged Fide Master (FM), you cannot make it to the elite level of chess without understanding tactical and strategic ideas intricately. So indeed, chess dedication is the key to reaching CM level. This article in’s academy on how to get better at tactical chess by Josh Waitzkin can give more insight on how to use training time to improve your tactical and patterning recognition in chess.

How to Improve Your Chess Skills?

Improving your chess skills is a case of deep study, consistent learning, and practice. Taking a book such as Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess and dedicating time to completing every exercise is a great way to improve. Completing chess puzzles on an app such as Lichess is another way to enhance your tactical skills. Utilize Rybka’s chess relative value system to learn opening theory and improve your middle game.

Study Chess Games of Masters

Advanced chess players, commentators, and professional tournament observers often study the moves of different players to improve their game. Levon Aronyan, a former player in the top ten of international ratings and many-time Armenian national chess champion, said when reviewing grand master Robson‘s games that it is very important. For understanding everybody, it is essential to study master games of not just one player. Levon is one of the select few grandmasters who have been the number two player in the world. If it is difficult, Ouri Harvey, a Canadian expert chess player suggests to start by studying games of grand masters at their peak. Then work down to the games of masters and students who have learned from them to make it more accessible. Best to analyze their games on a board without assistance from any computerized players.

Practice Regularly

Active chess mastery requires consistent effort and regular practice. To advance in the hierarchy from C class to chess master, the US Chess Federation suggests playing in tournament games and regularly setting aside time between and during matches to conduct a post-mortem analysis. This refers to reviewing the quality of one’s moves and conducting research into the strategic decisions that won or lost the match to ensure similar mistakes are not made in the future.

Learn from Your Mistakes

It is important to learn from your own mistakes. Use game analysis or tools like or lichess to check where you lost and why, then avoid doing it in the future chess games against other opponents. King safety is often an issue for players below an ELO rating of 1500 during the opening phase. Learn from games against top grandmasters, and how it is crucial for your forces to work together correctly by staying connected and well-coordinated throughout the game to avoid falling into old traps.

Playing against an artificial intelligence chess computer trainer is highly beneficial, as you can instantly analyze where things went wrong and why. Remember that Felix Coppola, known on as Kingscrusher who analyzes grandmaster games on YouTube, says to avoid prioritizing questionable aggressive moves such as quick pawn thrusts in the opening against stronger players. The end result is your center collapsing or your teamwork being out of synch with the rest of your forces, leading to unfavorable tactical goals developing for your grandmaster opponent.

Analyze Your Games

The only way to get better is by analyzing your games afterwards. Lichess offers a study option, where you can page through the moves of a game, identifying mistakes made as well as recognizing when you played well. As a community manager, you can use these lessons as case studies to share with other users on your platform.

Engagement strategies like game analysis threads or lessons learned videos can be interesting to others to view. Sharing multiple perspectives on similar games and how other users and the community can learn and improve can also be valuable.

At the club level before the pandemic, we would often get together and members would play a game while others would observe. Then we would discuss the game afterwards, offering each other perspectives we might have missed, including strategies that could have been pursued, errors that were made, and how to navigate different decision-making moments. Community chess managers can oversee such meetings and/ or organize them on their platform.

Lastly, game analysis software is easy to come by. Two popular programs are SCID vs. PC and Lucas Chess. These software programs allow users to easily replay games and see where different moves could potentially have shifted the course of the game.

What Are the Different Levels of Chess Mastery?

The different levels of chess mastery are laid out by the US Chess Federation’s ratings system. The mass majority of chess participants’ ratings fall within the 800 to 2000 range, while the average Grandmaster’s (GM) ratings is 2500 and above.

According to a UMBC introductory chess course, intermediate novices (600-800) and upper novices (800-1000) are beginners beginning to learn opening theory and refining tactics. Advanced beginners (1000-1200) are the next level and include high school and beginning college players of chess. Intermediates (1200-1400) are the first novices needed to know beginner’s opening theory, advanced tactics, and be developing an endgame strategy. Upper intermediates (1400-1600) should be prepared to spend many hours in chess study. Experts (1800-2000) are just a step away from international competition.

Candidate Master (CM)

Candidate Master (CM) is the lowest of the FIDE rating requirements for obtaining a Chess Master title. To qualify for the CM title, a player must have or achieve the following over-the-board ratings.

Total number of games: atleast 50 games excluding transfer games.

Country initial rating or CIR: average rating of the players native country (specific country from which the title application is filed and the latest rating list of the country should be acquired) being at least 1000. That means that the total points of all gamesDivided by the total number of games must cross this threshold as well as individual games where the total number of moves was under 150 moves

FIDE rating must to be over 2100 and must remain at or above that level until the award is approved at the next Congress

FIDE Master (FM)

An FM is a title awarded by FIDE to players based on their mastery of the game with the following key requirements:

  • Minimum rating of 2300 in standard games.
  • Process requires 2 norms and holding the minimum rating for 1 year.
  • Can be awarded after 50 games against Grandmasters and other titled players over 5 years prior to application.

International Master (IM)

An International Master in chess is the second highest title awarded by FOIDE, the world chess federation. To get the IM title in chess, you must have a FIDE rating of at least 2400. Additionally, you must have at least 3 IM-norms that are scored at norm tournaments lasting at least 9 days with at least 40 moves, 9 rounds, and a 50% player average. Furthermore, to get the IM title in chess, at least one of the norm events during the application period must be open to players of both sex ISM is a title conferred by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for the recognition of outstanding accomplishment and accomplishment in chess. This title is also available to WIM and WGM titleholders. Women-only titles, available for holding WIM and WGM conferred by the International Chess Federation.

Grandmaster (GM)

Grandmaster (GM) is the title given by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to experienced players who have achieved a consistently very high level of play. The GM title is subject to FIDE’s approval, and is awarded to players with a published rating of 2500 or more who have obtained three so-called GM norms under the guidance of tournament directors who have applied for and been granted accreditation to hold GM title tournaments.

Sources for attaining GM norms include so-called Grandmaster Norm tournaments (or simply GM tournaments) with other players seeking to acquire the GM title, as well as norms achieved in strong Open tournaments, Round-robin tournaments, and in team versus team competitions.

Each norm typically requires that a player obtains a specified number of points in tournament games against opponents of determined average rating and at least particular tournament ranking. To be eligible for a GM title a player must play at least half of their games against other players who have achieved international master status.

As of the end of the 3rd quarter of 2021, FIDE reports that there were 1758 Grandmasters in the world, 195 of whom are under the age of 30, and 741 of whom are retired. Nearly six months are needed to achieve each norm, so the GM challenge is a multi-year commitment by an experienced IM or similar player.

How to Achieve the CM Title?

One can become a Candidate Master (CM) in chess by having a FIDE ELO rating of 2200 or higher for standard chess or a separate rating of 2050 for rapid/blitz for at least 24 games. These ratings are typical, but actual barriers differ depending on one’s geographic region. The FIDE (the World Chess Federation) gives out the title, and they have to act as the official arbitrator at events to allow for the quantity of games played to be properly authenticated.

Players who qualify base on prior tournament results provide FIDE’s Qualification Committee with the documentation to verify key data points or as they call it NTOs, or National Tournament (title) Officials. This committee reviews the player’s tournament scores to verify they have achieved a performance rating of at least 2100 in at least 50% of the standard-rating games for which they have had published results. This title is the most basic according to the FIDE regulations and can be obtained by a dedicated amateur who is regularly tournament active and/or consistently lauded for their chess ability by other high-rated players. Being recognized on the many rating lists and databases compiled by chess federations and websites worldwide is beneficial. This is the first of heirarchy of Chess Master Titles.

Meet the Rating Requirement

To become a Certified Marketing (CM) chess arbiter, you must have at least a US Chess rating, whether that is Standard, Rapid, Blitz or Online. This is not true for all titles (eg: FM, WIM, GM, etc) in the chess industry, but for the CM arbiter title, this chess rating is an eligibility requirement. You must have obtained a peaking US Chess rating at or above 1700 depending on the category. If you are unsure of the qualification, it is encouraged you apply.

Play in FIDE-Rated Tournaments

Right before COVID-19 self-distancing began, Johan-Sebastian Christiansen of Norway (who already had one IM norm) decided to play in Тhe 11th BCC Open on his way to Grandmaster and got two IM norms to earn his IM title. Playing in local FIDE-rated tournaments has become the norm as even Henri-Armand Lahami a five-year-old player from the UAE currently closing in on his third IM norm has done this. Cms should play wherever they are ready to excel.

Obtain Norms

Over the next several years, you must obtain 3 norms to qualify as a Cm in chess. Chess norms in international chess refer to a list of tournament regulations that describe specific qualifications that need to be met in order for a player to earn his title. Three norms are achieved basically by earning nine title points in FIDE-rated events, which occur when a player outperforms a set average ranking in a single game of chess.

Such norms need to be earned in at least 3 different countries and at least 27 games for the title of Candidate Master. These games need to happen within 7 years, are only revocable for dishonesty, and require ratification by the national chess organization of the player as well as FIDE.

Apply for the Title

There is no way to apply directly to become a CM in chess. The title of Candidate Master is achieved through the qualifying tournament system set up by the player’s national chess federation or similar organization that assigns the titles. Players must fulfill the requirements set by FIDE in terms of gaining points and offically participating in tournaments. The organization takes care of everything and submits the proper paperwork to FIDE on behalf of a candidate. Once that is done, FIDE officially bestows the title Candidate Master and the player’s biography on the FIDE website is updated with the new title.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a CM in Chess?

A CM, also known as Candidate Master, is a title awarded by the World Chess Federation to players who have achieved a certain level of skill and performance in chess. It is the first level of titled player and is a major milestone for any aspiring chess player.

2. How do you become a CM in Chess?

To become a CM in chess, you must first achieve a rating of at least 2200 in official FIDE-rated tournaments. You must also accumulate norms, which are earned by achieving certain performance levels in specific tournaments. Once you have both the rating and the norms, you can apply for the CM title from the World Chess Federation.

3. What is the difference between a CM and a FM in Chess?

Both CM and FM are titles awarded by the World Chess Federation, but CM is the lower of the two. FM stands for FIDE Master and is the next level above CM. To achieve the FM title, a player must have a rating of at least 2300 and accumulate norms in the same manner as for the CM title.

4. What skills are required to become a CM in Chess?

Becoming a CM in chess requires a combination of strong tactical and positional skills, as well as a deep understanding of opening and endgame theory. It also requires mental toughness, as tournaments can be long and grueling, and a strong work ethic to constantly improve and stay competitive.

5. How long does it take to become a CM in Chess?

The time it takes to become a CM in chess varies for each individual and depends on factors such as natural talent, dedication, and access to resources and opportunities for competitive play. On average, it can take several years of consistent playing and improvement to achieve the CM title.

6. Can you become a CM in Chess without a coach?

While having a coach can greatly benefit your development as a chess player, it is not a requirement to become a CM in chess. Many players have achieved the title through self-study, analyzing their own games, and playing in tournaments. However, having a coach can help identify weaknesses and provide guidance for improvement, making the journey to becoming a CM more efficient.

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